US Border Patrol agents apprehend undocumented Caribbean migrants in Puerto Rico
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (CMC) – The United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency says agents have apprehended 16 undocumented Caribbean migrants that disembarked from a makeshift wooden vessel near a shopping mall in Hatillo, Puerto Rico.
According to CBP, the Ramey Sector Border Patrol received a report of a possible migrant smuggling incident near Plaza del Norte mall in the municipality of Hatillo.
“Border Patrol agents, along with personnel from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Hatillo Municipal Police and Puerto Rico Police Department Officers reached the beach behind the mall area and located an abandoned 30-foot, fibreglass vessel, blue in colour, with two outboard engines beached on the shore,” said CBP in a statement.
“Our message for anyone who is thinking of entering the United States illegally crossing the Mona Passage is simple: don’t do it,” said Desi DeLeon, chief patrol agent for the Ramey Sector.
“People who venture to cross the sea, boarding a rustic and inadequate boat, endanger not only their lives but also the lives of law enforcement officials from both countries with the mission of rescuing them,” DeLeon added.
After an extensive search, CBP agents located 16 undocumented migrants, 12 adult males from the Dominican Republic, two adult males from Haiti, one adult female from Haiti and one adult female from the Dominican Republic.
CBP said a Haitian female complaining of dehydration was transported to Camuy Health Services for medical evaluation.
During this federal fiscal year, CBP said Ramey Sector Border Patrol agents have apprehended 1,329 non-citizens who attempted or entered the US illegally in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.
Under US Title 8 law, CBP said “it is a crime to enter or attempt to enter without requesting admission at a port of entry so designated by immigration officials, a matter that may adversely affect an immigrant’s chances of remaining legally in the United States.”
CBP said agents transported the group to the Ramey Station for removal proceedings.
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the smuggling of migrants by sea produces the largest number of deaths worldwide.
The report says that lack of food, dehydration, as well as drowning and beatings or murder by smugglers, who have thrown people overboard, have been documented among the causes of death.
Suicides have also been reported, CBP said.